Friday, June 13, 2008

Our 3rd/4th Grade Curriculum 2008

Someone recently emailed me to ask what curriculum materials my kids are using this year. The main thing is Sonlight's 3rd/4th grade combined curriculum with extra readers. The materials we're using through them, mainly, are:

Math: Horizons Math
Spelling: Sequential Spelling
Handwriting: Cursive Success
History/Geo./Soc.: The Story of the U.S.A.
Art: Draw Squad

and their science experiments DVD and kit. Then of course, there are all the reading books. I wasn't impressed with their science curriculum which seems to be a journal/book that has little do with science and a few mini books with experiments to do once a week. So we are supplementing with some A Beka books we found at a used homeschool book fair. We're using:

Science: Investigating God's World

The second question asked in the email was what a typical day looks like for us. That's almost impossible to answer. Our days are usually all pretty different. Originally our goal was to do our school time in the mornings, but we've discovered over time that it seems to work best during the younger kids' nap time. No two days ever seem to be the same. Tonight we finished our homeschool work after we put the little ones to bed at 7pm just as Daniel was leaving for work. The other day we did our work at the laundry mat. We have Spanish and Grammar CDs that we play in the van so that the kids are even learning as we run errands. Their current favorite song has them endlessly singing "I'm a verb verb verb. I'm an action word." We've also started doing a lot of the read aloud time just before bedtime.

As for Kevin, we're just reading a lot of books, counting out loud, and singing songs about the colors. He can almost count to 10 already! We also bought him the magnetic Leap Frog letters that he switches out to hear their sounds. He can tell you that "K" says "cuh" and is working on identifying all the letters in his name. The girls and I also recently made him a board book using Sizzix dies to teach him the basic colors.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

So Long, Latte

Our first ever potential adoptive child left us today. I said goodbye to Latte at the court house and told her I'd bring the last of her things to her mom's house in the morning. If all goes well over the next few weeks then the paper work will be made official. This is actually a very good thing and I'm happy for her and her family. It's sad too, though, for our family and harder than I thought it would be. Maybe it's because she's been with us longer than any other foster child so far, just over 7 months. We've watched her grow and change so much. If Snoopy is placed elsewhere this week as well, then we will be back to just our original family members. I guess it will make our vacation simpler and easier, but I think it will also leave us feeling a little empty, like someone is missing. Saying good bye is always the hardest part I think.

Elitch Birthday Party

I don't recall if I've mentioned this before, but Danya's birthday party was a bit of a gift from God. She had been asking for quite some time to do something big and special for her birthday like going to our local Six Flags called Elitch Gardens or somewhere similar. There was just no way we could afford the tickets for our own family, much less several guests. We've been saving it all for our upcoming vacation.

Just a couple of weeks before her birthday we got a surprise envelope in the mail with no information in it, just 9 free tickets to Elitch's and a yellow sticky note with my name on it. So Danya's prayers were answered and she got to have her big special birthday party after all! She had a blast! I know that she and her friends will have great memories to share and talk about for a long time to come.

Girl Movie Night

My friend Deanna pulled a fast one on us all the other night. She invited several friends from church and elsewhere to come have a Girls' Movie Night at her mom's house. We watched the old BBC version of Prince Caspian as a sort of comparison to the new one just released. I brought cheese and cracker trays. The other ladies made chocolate mint cookies, Zucchini bread, banana chocolate chip bread, and pink lemonade. It was really fun and delicious.

Then after the movie was over we all sat around and talked, getting to know each other. In an odd coincidence, of the three of Deanna's friends that showed up one was in college to become a social worker, one was a foster mom (me), and one was in the process of adopting from South Korea. At the very end of the evening Deanna let us all know her secret. This party was not just a girls' movie night. It was her birthday party that she'd thrown for herself. She didn't want anyone to bring gifts so she kept it a secret. In a way, she threw a reverse surprise party, by surprising all her guests!

Eight is Great!

I can't believe my little girl turned eight years old last Thursday. Where did the time go? It seems like just yesterday that I was watching her blow milk bubbles as she fell asleep while nursing. Or just the other day that I was wondering when she would ever learn to raise her arms up in the air to show that she wanted to be picked up.

Now she is so tall and graceful. She's worried about hair styles and what her friends will think of her outfit at church. She gives Gloria fashion advice like "Don't wear that top over that dress. They don't go together." Tonight she asked me if for her special time next Thursday night we could have a "beauty night" and teach her how to wear makeup. She talks about what she wants to be when she grows up and makes sure that we remember to pray for the salvation of all our foster kids and their families. She's got an uncanny grasp of math concepts and likes to learn the meanings of difficult new words or expressions. She even relates family events to moments in history that I forgot reading about with her.

Then the next minute she reminds me that she's still not grown up yet. She'll giggle over the silliest things and reminds me that she is not too old to play dress up. I just keep hugging her and asking her to stop growing up so fast. I don't want to miss a moment of her childhood. I'm so thankful to God that we get to spend so much time together as a family.

Orange you coming with us?

Here are my Orange Boys looking adorable as usual in Daniel's favorite color. It's still very much up in the air as to whether Snoopy will be coming with us on vacation next week. His caseworker would prefer to find him a legal risk fost/adopt home this week to move him to so that he won't miss any visits with his mom, but so far she hasn't found one. We gave her a suggestion of a wonderful homeschooling foster family that provided respite briefly for us earlier this year. If no family is approved this week then Snoopy has permission to go with us. Meanwhile we're all just holding our breath wondering what will happen.

Preparing for Vacation

We're slowly checking things off our list to get ready for our vacation which starts next week. One big hurdle we knocked out was cleaning the van. With as many kids as we have coming and going and all using our two ton tomato it gets trashed out pretty fast. Some of the kids, especially little ones, have a tendency to hide chicken nuggets and food wrappers in out of the way locations in our van. Not to mention the enormous amount of paperwork generated each week by our church. Every kid comes home with two sheets of paper with info and memory verses plus any craft projects, event info and sign up sheets, invitations to birthday parties from friends, etc. It's so nice to have it cleaned and vacuumed. Now if we can just keep it that way until we leave.

Buzzing My Baby

I gave Kevin his first buzz cut last week. It was fun and awful all at the same time. It was like shaving off the last of his babyhood and watching him physically enter those terrible twos that are the precursor to his little boy years. No more sweet golden baby locks for my son. He sat very still on his Daddy's lap and focused on the interesting sound coming from the trimmer.

When it was done he dutifully looked in the mirror to see his new style but wasn't nearly as fascinated with rubbing his hands on his head as all the rest of us were. He enjoyed watching his Dad get his "ears lowered" next. He seemed more concerned about the piles of hair in his lap and on his clothes than anything else. Daniel even let Kevin help use the clippers to crop his hair. I also used them to trim Daniel's new goatee. That was strange. I'm still adjusting to seeing Kevin walking around looking like such a big kid. Where's my baby?!

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Mini Homeschoolers 10: Not that Different

Danya and Gloria talk about things that their home school has in common with public school. They show that being a homeschooler isn't completely different from going to public school.

The Mini Homeschoolers 9: Grade Confusion

What's in a grade? Danya and Gloria discuss the issue of being officially in one grade in homeschool, but wanting to stay with their age group in places like church Sunday school. This is their first new video in quite some time.

Mitt and Me at the GOP!

The Colorado State Republican Convention was this Saturday. I was up at 5:30 a.m. for the second day in a row to get out there and work a table. We were giving people their credentials and telling them where their seat assignments were. As a District Captain I was also required to be a row captain. My job was to make sure that the correct delegates were in their seats in my row, count how many alternates I would need, and hand out and collect ballots.

It wasn't always a fun job, like when they seated me in the middle of the row and I had to keep climbing over people. Or when they told me to tell everyone that the alternates were going to be seated and the ballots handed out at 10 a.m., so please don't get up to go anywhere just yet. Then due to a ballot counting error we didn't get the alternates seated or the ballots until after noon.

We did get to nominate Bob Schaffer to run for the U.S. Senate, elect a committee man and woman for the national GOP convention and also elect 22 delegates and 22 alternates as delegates as well. The best part was getting to hear Mitt Romney speak! I'd support him as VEEP in a heartbeat. He'd cover the economic knowledge lacking in McCain. The parts that took the longest were voting on the 40 proposed party resolutions and listening to all 385 candidates for national delegate each give a 15 second speech. There were a TON of extremely angry and intense Ron Paul supporters there.

I'm not a "unite behind McCain" person because honestly he just makes me madder every time I hear something new about him. Yes, I know he's better than a democrat alternative, but he just doesn't represent my views and beliefs. Worse than that, he doesn't seem to care that the base of his party isn't happy with his stance on illegal immigration, McCain/Feingold, and global warming. He just assumes we're stuck with him. I guess we'll see what happens in November. Meanwhile I'm actually hoping for a miracle. That some true conservative will spring out of the woodwork before then and steal the nomination or that McCain will choose a conservative V.P.

6,000 Bags

After the CD2 meeting was over they asked for volunteers to drive over to the Broomfield Event Center and help prepare the bags for the state convention. Since Sarah our babysitter was staying the weekend with us Daniel and I decided to go help.

There was a huge assembly line of tables going down one half of the convention center. They were stuffing 6,000 bags with literature, from campaign ads for national delegates to "The Statesman" which is a small newspaper with info about our representatives, candidates for state and national congressional seats, and the agenda and list of "resolutions" to be voted on. Daniel and I got to work on every part of the assembly line. We make a great team. We were working for 3 1/2 hours. The main volunteers had been there since 9 a.m.

Any campaign that wanted their literature in the bag had to have at least one volunteer working there at all times. Some people's papers got tossed out due to that rule. We met a lot of great folks including the organizer for the whole state convention. She was an amazingly energetic person. We also got to meet some candidates. The one major downside was that the next day less than 4,000 delegates and alternates showed up, so a lot of our work was really wasted. Oh well.

2nd Congressional District

I was on the credentials committee for Adams County this weekend. I got to work the table at the 2nd CD meeting Friday morning from 7am until it started at 9am. I've never participated in this sort of thing before. It was a lot of fun helping out, distributing paperwork to all the different counties, checking people in, handing out I.D. badges (credentials) and directing them where to go.

Then I was also a delegate from my precinct for the meeting. I got to stand up and speak to address a few issues, answering questions, and was asked by several people why I wasn't running for national delegate. They wanted to vote for me. Honestly I wish I could, but you have to pay your own way to Minnesota and the expenses to stay there for four days in September. I'm learning a lot this time around and enjoying helping in any way I can.

Official Foster Mom

Now that I've got the badge I guess I'm all official. It identifies me as a foster parent so that when I enter through the front door at the DCFS building I don't have to sign in. I can just breeze on through to the waiting area. However, they usually want me to go in through the back door which requires an electronic badge that I don't have. So I end up standing outside, no matter the weather, hoping someone will let the kids and I in soon. Even when I go in through the front I'm still unable to use the elevator or enter the daycare room without the electronic badge. I'm sort of wondering what the point of this little official foster parent I.D. really is. Must just be for status.

Kids Church

On Wednesday nights at our church they have a short Kids' Church time with the Children's Ministry Pastor. Mike teaches a short lesson on stage with visual props like an occasional Barbie doll to explain to the kids a biblical concept that will be taught in the upcoming Sunday school classes.

It usually cute and the kids all enjoy getting to be on stage. Latte and Kevin have a little trouble sitting still, but they are getting better. I've also started playing in the band during Wednesday night worship time instead of just leaving after practice is over. Then after that Daniel and I slip out for a 30 minute mini-date at Starbucks while the girls are in choir practice and the little ones are in the kids' service. It sure is nice not having to worry about AWANA on Wednesday nights anymore. At least until September.

Girl Mechanics Rock!

Girl Mechanics
Danya and Gloria learning some mechanic skills with Dad as they replace hoses on our van. There won't be any teen girls who can't change the oil or check fluid levels in this house!